Tonight the winners of the Dutch Game Awards 2023 were announced at the leading awards show for the Dutch game industry. This thirteenth edition of the award show took place during Dutch Media Week in Beeld & Geluid in Hilversum.

The Dutch Game Awards has several categories, from ‘Best Game’ to ‘Best Innovation’ and four special awards. The winners are chosen by a professional and diverse jury. Besides an award, the winners also receive a place in the collection of Sound & Vision, where the games are preserved as cultural heritage for eternity. And the winners are…!

Best Game: Age of Wonders 4 – Triumph Studios
Best Art: Mail Time – appelmoes games
Best Audio: Isonzo – BlackMill Games
Best Innovation: Secret Shuffle – Adriaan de Jongh & Friends
Best Technology: Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered PC – Nixxes Software
Best Game Design: Secret Shuffle – Adriaan de Jongh & Friends
Best Applied Game: Klankkr8 – Game Tailors
Best Debut Game: Kayak VR: Mirage – Better Than Life
Best Student Game: Iron Line – Team Trainwreck (BUas)

Triumph Studios with Age of Wonders grabs Best Game 2023 award: “Age of Wonders 4 proves to be an excellent continuation of the series. The game is innovative within the strategy genre and combines old and new mechanics to create a masterpiece. The depth and complexity give the game a feeling of epic proportions.”

The jury chose Secret Shuffle as the winner in the Best Innovation and Best Game Design categories: “What a way to put a smile on people’s faces! The game offers a very accessible way to connect people, through a form of gameplay never before seen by us. The different dance games will surprise at many parties, and the intuitive UI and low entry threshold make the game easy for anyone to understand and use. Making yourself uncomfortable has never felt better than with Secret Shuffle!”

Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered PC by Nixxes Software wins Best Technology: Where most PC ports don’t hold up to the original game, the PC port of Marvel’s Spider-Man surpasses it. The PC version adds subtle details like the enhanced reflections in the windows of the buildings, without sacrificing performance. With many custom solutions to the technological challenges Nixxes has raised the bar for porting technology.

Iron Line was voted Best Student Game: The judges were frustrated that this is not a full game (yet). Iron Line offers a unique twist on the Tower Defense genre. It cleverly combines cargo management with the placement of turrets. Add well-designed elements like the game economics and it makes the whole game fit together like a glove.

Best Debut Game was won by Kayak VR: Mirage: The judges really felt like they were outside while playing this game. The kayak moves very lifelike and the attention to detail in the environment adds up to an experience that feels beyond realistic. Next to that the game shows an intuitive UI and fun competitive multiplayer races.

Klankkr8 wins Best Applied Game: “It is noteworthy that Game Tailors used solid scientific theories and evidence as the basis for Klankkr8 and also conducted scientific research on the effectiveness of the game! These theories translated well into consistent, playful and simulating game design that introduces young children to letters, sounds and the first steps of learning to read. Klankkr8 is a full-fledged, interactive game that serves different audiences.”

Best Audio was won by Isonzo: “Isonzo excels with the integration of realistic audio from the historic World War I setting and excellently balances the chaos of sounds in the frantic multiplayer battles. This really adds to the immersion and depth of the game, and what’s more, the soundtrack is an orchestral masterpiece!”

Mail Time wins Best Art: “The studio describes itself as “a very small studio” and so it is impressive that Mail Time’s art feels so ‘wholesome’ and ‘cosy’ even though it was created by only one person. The unique complementary mix of 2D and 3D art certainly contributes to this depth, which the jury says is very hard to achieve!”

Special Awards
The Special Awards were created for the studios, individuals or initiatives that sometimes play more in the background, but are important for the Dutch game industry. The winners for the Special Awards are:

Best Studio: Triumph Studios
Inclusion Award: Esmeé van’t Hoff
Career Achievement: Angie Smets
Awesome Achievement: Deloryan Games

Triumph Studios wins Best Studio award: “Triumph Studios has been around since 1997 and has been going strong and quiet for over 25 years. Joining the Paradox family in 2017 did not negatively impact its own studio culture, but rather made the studio stronger in its own way. Employees stay with the studio for a long time and praise its good leadership. The studio’s rock-solid direction can also be seen in their games, with Triumph Studios not capitalizing on erratic trends, but rather following their own course.”

This year’s Inclusion Award goes to Esmeé van’t Hoff: “As the driving force behind Wholesome Games and Wholesome Direct, Esmeé has worked hard to create more space and recognition for “cozy games.” She is a figurehead for making these games visible to the broader public, which has given developers of these games a more prominent place in the game industry.”

The Career Achievement was won by Angie Smets: “Over the past 20 years at Guerrilla Games, Angie has proven to be a true cornerstone of the successful AAA game studio. But perhaps even more important is the role she has played in normalizing diversity, for both Guerrilla’s games and in the studio’s workplace! We wish her all the best in her new role at PlayStation Studios and look forward to more groundbreaking work from Angie!”

Last but not least, the Awesome Achievement goes to Deloryan Games: “Deloryan Hommers started as a one-person studio in her spare time, but her studio has since expanded to a team of eleven. Deloryan Games’ unique game serves a niche audience of diehard horse fans, but we’re not talking about little girls and glittering unicorns. Horse Reality brings a lot of depth to the market of horse management games by focusing on horse genetics, breeding programs, horse training and health statistics and all based on real-life data. The studio competes with studios ten times its size. Nevertheless, they have managed to grow in a tough market by taking their audience seriously.”

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